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A Woman's Education

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  250 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
The acclaimed author of the best-selling The Road from Coorain and True North now gives us the third book in her remarkable continuing memoir—describing the pleasures, the challenges, and the constant surprises (good and bad) of her years as the first woman president of Smith College.

The story opens in 1973 as Conway, unbeknownst to her, is first “looked over” as a prospec
ebook, 160 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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Jean Poulos
Sep 29, 2013 Jean Poulos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: menoir, e-book
I read the first two books of Jill Ker Conway’s trilogy and enjoyed each of them. This, the third book, is titled “A Woman’s Education” covers the period of her career as the first woman President of Smith College, a women’s liberal college. I feel it is important to read these books in order of publishing. The first book “The Road From Coorain” (about her childhood on a sheep/cattle ranch in Australia), “True North” (about her teaching career at University of Toronto and the launching of her ca ...more
Jul 26, 2013 Cecilia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After hearing Jill speak at my 25th college reunion, I was compelled to read this book by and about a woman who, unbeknownst to me, had a HUGE roll in shaping my world view. When I arrived on the Smith Campus my freshman year, Jill was completing her last year as the president.

Of course our next president and every subsequent one since would be a woman - right? Of course it made sense for me to study math, become an Air Force officer and then a strategy consultant at a leading global strategy f
While this book is not as entertaining as Conway's first two books, I found this slim volume to be an interesting perspective on being the first woman president of a women's college (Smith) between 1975-85. Conway describes not just her experience being president but reflects on women's education in general and how it was changing in this time period--a period when I was in college. It made me reflect on women's roles not only in academia but in other careers and the different understanding that ...more
Sep 16, 2008 Misti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Smithies
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
Jill Ker Conway was the president of Smith College in the 70s and 80s, so this book holds special significance to me. It was interesting to read about her experiences guiding the faculty and her spending decisions which apparently dramatically affected the traditions and opportunities available to today's Smithies. The increased alumnae donation programs, better CDO and of course the amazing athletic facilities are all a part of Conway's legacy. And while there is a great deal of introspection h ...more
Jul 23, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: especially to women
This book is amazing! I've read both of author:Jill Ker Conway's books and have enjoyed them all. This book is inspiring. The things she has accomplished are unbelievable. It is an interesting look into her life and her role at Smith College as the first female president (in the 60s) of an all female institution. Even if you are not in this field, it will inspire you to go out and do great things. It gets you started thinking what else should I be doing? I highly recommend this book to everyone!
I read her first two memoirs and liked them very much -- especially finding out that the author had been friends with one of my favorite literature professors from college. I found this at a used book sale (thanks again to the friends of the Newport Beach Public Library). I enjoyed reading about her experiences in becoming the president of Smith College in the late 70's but overall it was not as enthralling a tale as the others. But I'm glad I read it.
Aug 12, 2010 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've wanted to read this book for a long time. Not only because of her wonderful writing style but also because it's set in an area I lived in for years. So it was great fun to read about locations I knew very well.

What I didn't expect was how very candid she was and what a great insight she provided of the role of a president of a small liberal arts college for women.

It made me want to read more by Ms Ker Conway.
Jul 31, 2015 Sally rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this short book by an Australian woman who became the first woman President of Smith College in the US. The whole idea of a female-only college was strange and interesting, and I particularly enjoyed her take on institutional politics at such a tumultuous time in American society (and tertiary education) - 70s and 80s.
Sep 21, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely engrossing memoir from a truely admirable and intellectual woman. There was lots of good food for thought about the purpose of education, both generally and specifically the value of women's colleges.
Sep 26, 2012 Margo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 - Having gone to a woman's college, I agree with much of what she says. Many women do benefit from the environment, feel freer to discuss and debate.
Jun 19, 2013 Noriko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: smithie-authors
How she got to Smith's presidency and all the years she was there. I was on campus for her last year of her tenure.
Aug 08, 2014 Jocelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
Q: What to do if you're 40 years old, a VP at the University of Toronto, and passionate women's education?

A: Become the president of Smith College.

Q: What to do if you've tripled the endowment, built a new athletic facility, opened the College to older women, and stretched the mission of a very traditional liberal arts college to include educating about women, preparing female students to enter highly-paid professions, and marketing itself to prospective students -- and you're only 50 years old
Dec 21, 2014 Peggy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Conway's memoir covers the ten years that she served as the first woman president of Smith College, from 1975-1985. These were tumultuous years in the development of higher education curriculum as well as for women's roles in society. Conway's perceptions about college politics and feminism are insightful. I especially enjoyed her discussions about the experience of being a female leader at a women's college in the mid-70s. Her description of an event at which hundreds of young women pounded on ...more
Jul 29, 2008 Kirsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"doing the conventional things - marrying, beginning a career - gave me a false sense of security, as though the task of relating inner and outer self had been definitely completed. as a young married woman in my thirties, i expected that there weren't going to be too many more iterations of the quest for self-definition. but, of course, i was wrong. i wasn't quite forty when i arrived at smith and ran instantly into one of the major challenges of adulthood. that challenge is to protect and sust ...more
Paula Dembeck
Jul 30, 2013 Paula Dembeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This continues the author’s autobiography which she began in two books, first “The Road to Coorain” and then in “True North”.

In 1975, she moved on from a VP position at the University of Toronto to President of Smith’s College in the United States. She had a big job ahead of her juggling the needs and concerns of faculty, students, parents, trustees and alumnae. One of her major challenges was redefining life at the college and creating programs consistent with the new reality of women’s lives.
Rod Hunt
Sep 04, 2015 Rod Hunt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A return to form. An accessible thought provoking short book spilling over with good ideas and historical perspective. An absolute joy to read. Read The Road from Coorain first though.
I would have never read this book if I hadn't enjoyed the first 2 books in Jill Ker Conway's autobiography. And I probably wouldn't have read it even then if someone hadn't loaned it to me and if I was a captive audience on a very long train ride. This book is about her 10 years as the first woman President of Smith College. I had no idea being a college president required so much work! For that it was interesting. I also loved that she stretched me to think more about ideas more deeply, primari ...more
Clayton Brannon
Dec 16, 2014 Clayton Brannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read what Jill has to say. Short very well written insightful book.
Mar 28, 2015 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ker Conway's early life was fascinating. This part of it, as president of Smith College, was less so, but I found the history of the woman's college - especially during the turbulent 1960s/1970s - worth reading.
Mar 21, 2011 Morgan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Her university political life, mostly otr all in the United States--can't remember, read it in 2009.
Nothing matches Road from Cohrain for me--I loved that memoir. I suppose I'm less interested in women's politics in education now that I'm out of that field and my energies are elsewhere. Her writing about her relationships remains compelling for me, however. At least, I think she wrote a lot about them in this Memoir, too? (Monday morning no-coffee brain-drain...)
I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as its two predecessors. It felt that she had to walk a very careful tightrope between describing her experiences at Smith honestly, and not potentially offending any faculty still at the college. Also the difficulties with her husband's health could not have been easy to write about either. She remains an inspirational figure and I was very fortunate to have met her while I was at Smith after she retired.
Oct 30, 2008 Judith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
This wasn't what I was expecting. I wanted more of the classes she was involved in. I didn't finish this book, rare for me.
She talked about being a Vice President of The Toronto Univercity and her change to President of Smith College mostly in a negative way.
Pat Tucker
I have enjoyed Conway's memoirs. This third one covered 1975-1985, her years as the first female president of Smith College. She is an articulate thinker. Some of the details she writes about were more than I cared to know but I still found the book interesting.
Nov 25, 2010 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed her book The Road from Coorain. I wanted to read more about her life after she left Australia. This book deals with her life as the first woman president of Smith College. It was not as interesting as the first book.
Jul 02, 2012 Joyce rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite book. Too women's lib-ish and too humanistic. It is a good book informationally about Jill's life,
particularly her presidency of Smith College from 1975-1985. I just do not care for the things she stands for.
Apr 04, 2008 Dawnielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jaime
Excellent documentation of an academic life during a turning point in higher education. This book made me so proud of Smith, my alma mater. Jill Ker Conway is me new feminist hero.
Mar 13, 2010 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating woman...and a fascinating life. Very interesting to read of her challenges and accomplishments as president of Smith College.
Sep 01, 2011 Oanh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked this much less than Road from Coorain and True North.
Elizabeth Lund
Enjoyable older autobiography of a mind and a career
Nov 02, 2007 Deb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked the Road from Coorain much better.
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Jill Ker Conway, AC (born 9 October 1934) is an Australian-American author. Well known for her autobiographies, in particular her first memoir, The Road from Coorain. She was also Smith College's first woman president, from 1975–1985, and now serves as a Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2004 she was designated a Women's History Month Honoree by the National Women ...more
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